A new service, UC Exchange, was launched to provide cloud-based federation services for unified communications.
According to the sponsor, NextPlane Inc., UC Exchange is the next step in building real-time collaborative business communities for UC platforms that extend beyond an single organization to include its customers, suppliers and partners. Analysts agree.
"The benefits of unified and social communications are maximized within those enterprises that extend their solutions across their end-users, partners, customers and suppliers. However, in many organizations, UC and social media platforms remain isolated islands of communication with an inward focus," said Bill Haskins, senior analyst with Wainhouse Research. "NextPlane's UC Exchange marks a major step in breaking down communication barriers between organizations, and enabling users of UC and social media to participate in secure, federated and collaborative business communities."
In practice, UC Exchange is a secure portal that enables organizations to search for each other and connect UC platforms from Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Google, OpenFire, Isode and eJabberd.
It also supports UC-to-Skype federation; presently Microsoft Lync and OCS are supported with Google coming in December.
UC-to-Social Media Federation enables end-users of Yammer, Chatter and Twitter to authenticate with their social media accounts and post to social media feeds, send private messages and participate in group discussions from their UC client.
Voice Conferencing Federation enables end-users on Microsoft Lync or OCS to initiate conference calls and add colleagues on Google or vice versa.
The Secure Management Portal allows users to search the Members Directory for federation-ready partners, manage federation requests and access usage reports. At the end of the year, the UC Exchange also will add a searchable "phone book" of validated contact information based on employee profiles received from contributing members.
Since UC Exchange is a cloud-based service there is no additional hardware or software required to participate.
NextPlane is offering UC Exchange membership at two levels:
- Directory Membership — Free membership that gives member organizations access to the Management Portal, a listing in the Members Directory, the ability to search for Federation-Ready partners, the ability to accept inbound federation requests, free federation with Gmail.com, and basic usage reports.
- Community Membership — Fee-based membership, which includes the ability to make directory-driven outbound UC-to-UC federation requests, user-level Directory Search, plus additional federation services such as federation with Skype, social media federation and XMPP Group Chat Federation. Community Members also receive additional benefits such as policy enforcement, advanced federation analytics and reporting, and 24/7 support with guaranteed service levels. Annual subscription fees for Community Membership are based on the number of users, domains, and federation features required.
UC Exchange already serves several hundred thousand users from global organizations spanning education, manufacturing, supply chain, pharmaceuticals and health services, telecommunications, transportation and technology. UC Exchange users currently exchange billions of presence, chat, voice and video messages per month.